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wanton

[won-tn]
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adjective
  1. done, shown, used, etc., maliciously or unjustifiably: a wanton attack; wanton cruelty.
  2. deliberate and without motive or provocation; uncalled-for; headstrong; willful: Why jeopardize your career in such a wanton way?
  3. without regard for what is right, just, humane, etc.; careless; reckless: a wanton attacker of religious convictions.
  4. sexually lawless or unrestrained; loose; lascivious; lewd: wanton behavior.
  5. extravagantly or excessively luxurious, as a person, manner of living, or style.
  6. luxuriant, as vegetation.
  7. Archaic.
    1. sportive or frolicsome, as children or young animals.
    2. having free play: wanton breezes; a wanton brook.
noun
  1. a wanton or lascivious person, especially a woman.
verb (used without object)
  1. to behave in a wanton manner; become wanton.
verb (used with object)
  1. to squander, especially in pleasure (often followed by away): to wanton away one's inheritance.

Origin of wanton

1250–1300; Middle English wantowen literally, undisciplined, ill-reared, Old English wan- not + togen past participle of tēon to discipline, rear, cognate with German ziehen, Latin dūcere to lead; akin to tow1
Related formswan·ton·ly, adverbwan·ton·ness, nounun·wan·ton, adjective
Can be confusedwanton won ton

Synonyms

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1. malicious. 2. calculated. 3. heedless, inconsiderate. 4. licentious, dissolute, immoral, libidinous, concupiscent, lustful. 5. lavish. 10. waste.

Antonyms

3. careful, considerate. 4, 5. restrained.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for wantonly

wanton

adjective
  1. dissolute, licentious, or immoral
  2. without motive, provocation, or justificationwanton destruction
  3. maliciously and unnecessarily cruel or destructive
  4. unrestrainedwanton spending
  5. archaic, or poetic playful or capricious
  6. archaic (of vegetation, etc) luxuriant or superabundant
noun
  1. a licentious person, esp a woman
  2. a playful or capricious person
verb
  1. (intr) to behave in a wanton manner
  2. (tr) to squander or waste
Derived Formswantonly, adverbwantonness, noun

Word Origin

C13 wantowen (in the obsolete sense: unmanageable, unruly): from wan- (prefix equivalent to un- 1; related to Old English wanian to wane) + -towen, from Old English togen brought up, from tēon to bring up
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for wantonly

wanton

n.

"one who is ill-behaved," especially (but not originally) "lascivious, lewd person," c.1400, from wanton (adj.).

wanton

v.

1580s, from wanton (n.). Related: Wantoned; wantoning.

wanton

adj.

c.1300, wan-towen, "resistant to control; willful," from Middle English privative prefix wan- "wanting, lacking" (from Old English wan "wanting;" see wane) + togen, past participle of teon "to train, discipline;" literally "to pull, draw," from Proto-Germanic *teuhan (cf. Old High German ziohan "to pull;" see tug). The basic notion perhaps is "ill-bred, poorly brought up;" cf. German ungezogen "ill-bred, rude, haughty," literally "unpulled."

As Flies to wanton Boyes are we to th' Gods, They kill vs for their sport. [Shakespeare, "Lear," 1605]

Especially of sexual indulgence from late 14c. The only English survival of a once-common Germanic negating prefix still active in Dutch (cf. wanbestuur "misgovernment," wanluid "discordant sound"), German (wahn-), etc. Related: Wantonly; wantonness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper